1. PubliCola's own Erica C. Barnett was the obvious winner at last night's Friends of Seattle Mayoral debate.
Barnett vs. mayoral candidates Norman Sigler and Jan Drago
Density, Metro, the head tax—the lady knows her shit. (It was also pretty dynamite when she shut down the guy in the audience who had a question/wanted to give a speech about Israel. Sorry lefty Seattle, but somebody's gotta draw the line. Blaming Seattle's transportation woes and budget crisis on AIPAC is even a little lulu for this town.)
But Erica's not on the ballot. And she did have the unfair advantage—as moderator—of controlling the microphone in the packed (100 people) back room at Belltown's Spitfire club.
L-R: Mike Mann, Mike McGinn, James Donaldson, Jan Drago, Norman Sigler
(Photo by Johnathon Fitzpatrick)
2. With Erica disqualified, we have to declare the person on stage who gave the second best performance of the night the winner: Sierra Club leader Mike McGinn.
In fact, McGinn—who wasn't just tunnel sucks, tunnel sucks, tunnel sucks this time out, but added his parks levy victory "over the Mayor's objections;" his "No" to roads "Yes" to light rail victory against Olympia; and a Green-neighbors-take-back-the-neighborhoods-from-NIMBY-neighbors rap to his talking points—even outwitted Barnett on a point or two.
Barnett tried to ridicule all the candidates by scoffing at their promises to improve bus and transit service when, as she pointed out to a cheering audience (mostly a bunch of wonks who were in on the minutia of local politics), that the mayor actually doesn't have any control over transportation dollars. But McGinn shot back that Seattle currently has a mayor who made a green-house-gas-inducing tunnel along the waterfront a priority—and got $4.2 billion for it in Olympia. McGinn said, to cheers of his own, that if he were mayor, he would stop the tunnel, go to Olympia, and get that kind of money for mass transit instead.
3. McGinn was also impressing Peter Steinbrueck, the former (and mega popular) Seattle City Council Member. Steinbrueck, someone who's clearly having second thoughts about bailing on that run-of-his-own for mayor, told me: "McGinn is right on the mark. I misjudged him after his kickoff [which featured an offpoint platform about shcools and broadband]. The more I hear him the more I like him."
Steinbrueck, who I was lucky enough to be sitting next to, also had a lot to say about former Sonic-turned-mayoral-candidate, James Donaldson. And not in a good way. "It's all about team work," Steinbrueck would mock in a sarcastic whisper every time Donaldson was about to take the microphone to answer a question, and then, surprise, talk about team work.
Another person who was busting on Donaldson, was veteran Council Member and now-mayoral-candidate, Jan Drago. Drago boasted to me before going on stage that she was stealing donors from Donaldson, including Sonic legend, Wally Walker.
Okay, boasting about stealing donors from Donaldson—who only has about $7,000 on hand after being in the red for months— is like boasting about getting a medical degree from Bastyr—but it is true that Donaldson's former teammate, starting forward Wally F. Walker, is on Drago's list of contributors for the max $700. (Drago gleefully held up seven fingers when I asked her how much Walker was in for.) But I see Walker's name on Donaldson's list too, having topped out at $700, with a second $450 donation to Donaldson after making his contribution to Drago.
Weirdly, on Drago's list, Walker identifies himself as an executive with the Basketball Club of Seattle while on Donaldson's list, Walker identifies himself as a portfolio manager with Hana Road Partners.
4. Matchmaker-tured-mayoral-candidate, Norman Sigler, drew the biggest cheers of the night by saying he was all for density and development, but was put off by "piss poor design"—expressing bewilderment that all the creative architects in Seattle can't seem to do condos right.
5. T-Mobile executive Joe Mallahan wasn't at the debate (he sent word late in the day that he had a family emergency), but he was on KUOW earlier in the day—where this revelation came out at the end of the show: The self-proclaimed "progressive" and "Obama activist" worked for former Washington Republican Sen. Slade Gorton briefly as a young man.
6. Mayor Nickels wasn't at the debate either. He was in Washington, D.C. yesterday meeting with President Obama. Nickels' environmental policy director Mike Mann came in Nickels' place drawing skepticism from some in the crowd who wondered if Mann was on the clock—using city money to campaign. (That's unlikely, given that the debate was after hours.)
The more pertinent smart alec question I heard was this: If Nickels had asked Mann to be there, did Mann's donation—an in-kind contribution of time—constitute a violation of the new city rule that candidates cannot ask city employees for contributions?